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Lifestyle And Wellbeing Parenting and Work

Is It Time To Change Societal Norms For Mums?

We are all well aware, that recent times have shone a spotlight on how well, or not, our work and home lives blend. Research by McKinsey, Pregnant Then Screwed, Mother Pukka and many more has proven just what a negative impact the pandemic has had on women. The research has highlighted how in many cases women continue to be primarily responsible for the running of their homes and families. Covid has indirectly heightened the inequalities that women face in work and at home daily. A societal norm for mums that needs to be changed. But what does the future hold? Has this time taught us anything. Can we change to shift our societal culture for the better, for everyone?

There has been a lot of focus on the impact of work on home life. The fact women still find it hard to climb the ladder because historically flexibility hasn’t allowed for this. However I also feel there is a shift required (which incidentally, is beginning to happen) in our home cultures too.

The Socialisation of Societal Norms

Socialisation is defined as “the process of learning to behave in a way that is acceptable to society” and impacts both men and women. This starts as early as birth – think pink and blue blankets. It then progresses through how we are taught, communicated with, what we absorb from books, TV, movies etc.

Socialisation puts an almost invisible pressure on us to conform to ingrained societal beliefs. Dr Shawn Andrews has found through her work, time and time again, a family’s culture shows as one of the biggest influences of our gender beliefs and gender roles – and seems to be ubiquitous across most races and ethnicities.

We have also all heard of the “mental load”. In the majority of cases this tends to fall to the mum in a heterosexual parent family. The role of “knowing all the things”. The kids schedules, where to be when, the shopping list, meal planning, laundry, making or ordering school lunches, planning and booking in childcare. We even go as far as to say it is the mother’s salary, if she goes back to work, that must cover childcare and ideally more, otherwise her work is “not worth it”.

Why doesn’t the dad’s salary have any bearing on the cost of childcare? It becomes a reason for a mum to not be “able” to return to work. Financially it doesn’t stack up (of course there’s a whole other issue here about the insane cost of childcare in the UK, but that’s another blog!). But what about that mums career, sense of self, achievement and all else that comes with having a career?

Where am I going with this? I am not jumping off on a ranty tangent. I believe we have come to accept that it is a societal norm for mums to assume responsibility for and carry this load. It is a hangover from women not working and men being the breadwinners. Whilst women now can have and want to have careers, we haven’t relinquished the bygone responsibilities. Isn’t it time we changed these societal norms for mums?

Time to challenge the responsibilities of mums!

We don’t have much to thank Covid for. However, I have witnessed a shift in cultures at home. For many, the norm had been for dads to go to work Monday to Friday. Out of the home for the vast majority of their children’s waking hours. This has stopped. Not only has this allowed dads to be more present – it has also allowed visibility of exactly what happens at home!

I am well aware some families already balanced things well, where as in some homes sadly no shift has happened. However in the main I see a huge amount of dads now at the school gates. I see dads doing runs to extra curricular clubs. I know in my house only about 75% of the washing is now done by the laundry fairy (that’s me by the way – and yes it’s a work in progress!). What I also hear from dads is that they are really enjoying this shift. That being present in their children’s lives and being able to share the load more is not only now possible, but bringing them fulfilment.

Don’t be a Martyr!

On the less positive side however, I hear far too much of the “it’s easier to do it myself” dialogue. Mums leaving instructions and lists if they have to leave their husband in charge. Saying things like “I’m too much of a control freak… I’d have to re-do everything anyway. If I don’t leave a list the kids will be wearing pants on their heads and eating Haribo for dinner”. I get it. We know how to run our homes with our eyes closed.

It’s hard to understand how remembering the weekend timetable of various sports activities and sorting food out appears to be so hard for the men in our life. But really? Imagine if you were treated like that at work? Someone waiting for you to fail. Just so they could jump in and make it known what a terrible job you did? Or just never given the chance at all? We have to ask have we just assumed the role and never allowed our partners to learn it?

Are you project managing your home?

If we assume the “Project Manager role” the rest of the household will always assume that too. They will always say “you should have asked!” when we get all shouty. It may often feel like life is the shortest route to done, to do it ourselves. But spare a minute to think about yourself. What does it do to you to always be the doer of all the things? And how sustainable is this if we are home a lot more lines blurring between working and non-working hours? If we carry on holding the load, we are in huge danger of making it worse for ourselves. Being at home more means we have more opportunity to do more of the “things”. If we don’t let go of some of them and pass the baton on to partners or children – we could quickly be in an even more resentful place.

Socialising Future Generations

If our own wellbeing isn’t motivation enough, how about what we are teaching future parents – our children? If we want our sons and daughters to live in a more equal world where families are teams, managing the load together, we must teach them this now to influence socialisation.

Of course one size doesn’t fit all. What works for one family is another’s idea of hell! But as we move into an incredibly exciting period of cultural change, find what works for you. As we gain more flexibility at work it is imperative we take good care of ourselves. We don’t want to end up living in a blurred workplace – family home where no boundaries or team work prevail. We can’t simply just take on more.

The Culture Shift That Needs To Happen Now

So share the mental load, make space to hop on your Peleton daily or have a clear self-care routine. Don’t let these positive changes get thrown to the bottom of the pile as soon as a family need arises. We have the privilege of being able to play an active role in the culture shift of these outdated societal norms for mums. Let’s keep flexible working alive. A societal revolution that future generations will thank us for.

Rebecca Amin is a Career Coach helping parents feeling stuck in their careers, find their paths back to career happiness. Rebecca can be found via her website; Facebook Page and Facebook Group, Career Happy Mums.

If you wish to read more about societal change, why not have a read of what it is going to be like working in a post-pandemic society

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Mums Returning To Work

THE MUMMY of mummyjobs is very, very, tired.

THE MUMMY of mummyjobs has spent nearly every night of the last 2 weeks on the phone to the GoDaddy web development team in Arizona. This time it’s because she has accidentally deleted half of the Home Page (F.M.L.) and at 2am, CANNOT be arsed to try and fanny around figuring out how to get it back.

THE MUMMY of mummyjobs is aware that she has a very tricky 6am meeting with her 2 daughters in the morning that she will definitely NOT be allowed to call in sick for, or cancel and that the 3rd glass of Malbec in her hand was probably not the best idea she’s had this evening.

The clock is ticking past 2.30am… THE MUMMY of mummyjobs is now very tired (and a little tipsy), ‘GoDaddy Arizona’ has finally informed her how to fix her erroneous deletion of half the Home Page, but THE MUMMY of mummyjobs is still not able to rest.

No.

THE MUMMY of mummyjobs has been asked by her PR agency, Harvey & Hugo, to write a Blog about why she wanted to make the Mummyjobs.co.uk community site in the first place?

THE MUMMY of mummyjobs is currently so tired, that she cannot remember why she thought starting her own business would be a good idea and is not at all pleased that she cannot get out of writing the blog, she can’t, she was supposed to write said blog, 2 weeks ago…

So THE MUMMY of mummyjobs wrote;

“Hi.

My name is Cheney Hamilton and I’m a border line Alcoholic (that’s a joke, although I do enjoy the occasional bottle of wine!), as well as THE MUMMY of mummyjobs.co.uk

I am currently serving my second sentence of maternity leave (I’m 7 months in) and somewhat surprisingly I have grown very fond of my inmates. They are fast becoming my best friends and keep me constantly entertained.

My first sentence was spent longing for my adult counterparts and a life outside the front door; amazing how a little thing like a child born with hip dysplasia can so easily and fundamentally rock your world – The short story?  My Bea was trussed up in a Pavlik Harness at 6 weeks, Frog Cast at 8 weeks, all clear at 4 months, relapse at 6 months, surgery at 10 months, full body Hip Spica until she was 13 months old; which at least allowed us to have an Happy effing 2nd Christmas, thank you very much.  The long story was filled with tears, trauma and a profound wonder at how resilient that this little life which we had brought into the world, could be. (If you’re interested, or anyone out there is going through this – please do get in touch – I’ll give you the long story with a happy ending!)

Anyway, as you might imagine, I went running back to work after 5 months – thank the Lord for the MP who allowed parents to split maternity leave, thank him even more for my more than willing husband!

Back to my second sentence and I can honestly say that I had every intention of going back to my career. My employer was great with everything I went through with Bea, I really couldn’t have asked for more than the understanding and support I received. But this time something felt different…

It’s true that I still miss adult interaction and the buzz of being on a sales floor, but there is something deeply gratifying in spending the days with my children and watching them grow. Wondering where they learnt that funny phrase, or marvelling at how quickly they grasped the concept of things that we as adults would take an age to learn.

So I started to map out how I could make it work; be home with the kids, but still have a career and bring home the bacon.  For me it was simple. I took something that I was good at and merged it with the one thing I will always need help and support with. Digital Sales & Motherhood – I will let you decide which is which! So mummyjobs.co.uk was born – and Not to get mums a job, as one might think from its name; but to be a tool, a confidant, a support and hopefully a friend who helps mums get on with the job of being a mum, in whatever form she needs it.

So that’s what I did and why I did it.

I’m happy to say my girls are both well – they are already confident, strong, independent women who know what they want and exactly how to get it…

They are 2½ and 7 months old respectively.”

It’s now 3am, THE MUMMY of mummyjobs has only 1 more sleep until the launch of mummyjobs.co.uk as well as that very early meeting with the kids. Her last bottle of Malbec has just dripped its last drop – it must be time for bed.

Good Night.

 

Categories
Mums Returning To Work

Don’t give in to guilt, you’ve worked hard for your career

When you have children, your list of job roles suddenly multiplies. You become a mother, a caregiver, a nurse, a protector and many more. But one title many mothers feel guilty about is one they held long before their little bundle came along; employee.

Some women will choose to step right back into their career, others will take up new challenges, perhaps working from home or setting up a business. No matter which applies to you, there is one common thread; you have nothing to feel guilty about. Science says so.

A study led by New York’s Columbia University School of Social Work found that while there are downsides to mothers returning to work during their child’s first year, there are also significant advantages, including an increase in household income and a greater likelihood that children receive a high quality of care.

Here are some things to remember when feeling guilty about returning to work:

Life is full of sacrifices
There will always be compromises and sacrifices when it comes to combining being a mother and having a career. What’s important is that you remember why you are making them in the first place.
Make a list of the reasons why you go to work – money, sanity, friends that don’t wipe their sticky fingers on your clothes (we hope!). Although there will be times you miss a dance show or a school assembly, your family and yourself are all better off with you having a rewarding and satisfying career.

Should is not a word that belongs in your vocabulary
Do you remember your mum screaming on the sidelines at every football game? How about right at the front for the Christmas production every year? No? That’s because it’s unrealistic, especially for working mums!
‘Should’ is an unhealthy way of looking at your parental responsibilities. Once you replace it with ‘could’, you’ll find yourself feeling less guilty about choosing to work late on that all important project than being at the fourth performance of Jimmy being second octopus in the school play.

‘Good enough’, is good enough
You’ve made the decision to go back to work and your career is going better than ever – but you’re working yourself into the ground by overcompensating at home to be the ‘perfect parent’. If you find what that is – do let us know!
Going to work doesn’t mean it’s more important than your children, it’s just important to you. So when you’re at home, be present, be happy and be a role model. Don’t try to be perfect.

Although being a mother is possibly the most rewarding career you will ever have, you never need to feel guilty about going to work and doing something for you.

If you want to chat to like-minded mothers, or want to get something off your chest, join the conversation here.